Late-Race Caution Costs Bowyer Potential Win at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team were in contention to score their first victory of the 2010 season, but a series of unfortunate events ...
Late-Race Caution Costs Bowyer Potential Win at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team were in contention to score their first victory of the 2010 season, but a series of unfortunate events relegated the Richard Childress Racing team to a 17th-place finish in Saturday nights Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
With seven races remaining before the 12-man Chase for the Sprint Cup field is set, Bowyer sits 14th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings and 49 markers behind Carl Edwards in 12th.
The Shane Wilson-led team began the weekend by posting the second- and sixth-fastest speeds, respectively, in Thursdays dual practice sessions. Bowyer and Wilson were so satisfied with their Chevrolet Impalas handling and speed that they elected to end both practices early. Rain canceled Fridays time trials, which meant the 43-car field would line up according to the NSCS point standings. As a result, Bowyer would start 15th for Saturday nights scheduled 160-lap event.
Rain also came into play on Saturday as the race was postponed for almost an hour-and-a-half, with the green-flag waving shortly after 9 p.m. local time. Bowyer planned on getting to the front of the pack as quickly, but a loose-handling condition changed his game plan as he elected to ride in the rear of the field to avoid trouble. The two-time NSCS race winner ran in the back of the field for 98 circuits.
On lap 98, several competitors ahead of Bowyer began to pit. Luck struck the Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team as the events third yellow flag of the day was displayed, on lap 105, while Bowyer was running seventh. Bowyer was still battling a loose condition, so, during the caution period, Wilson called for a four tire and fuel pit stop, which included an air pressure and track bar adjustment. Bowyer would line up 12th for the lap 110-restart as several drivers were on varying pit strategies.
Over the next 49 laps, the handling of the No. 33 Chevrolet improved as Bowyer was able to draft with the front pack. Bowyers teammates, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton, bumped him to the lead on laps 129 and 131, and again on lap 146. Three laps later, a 19-car accident slowed the field and, eventually, brought out the red flag. During this time, Bowyer and crew discussed whether they would pit or stay out once the red flag was lifted. They felt that their best chance to win would be to stay out no matter what.
The engines re-fired and Bowyer stuck to the plan, staying out while the rest of the lead lap cars pitted. Bowyer led the field to the lap-152 restart and led the next five laps. Jeff Gordon passed Bowyer on lap 157, but racing was far from over for the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion.
On lap 158, as the leaders entered the backstretch, Harvick gave the No. 33 Impala a shove. The momentum of the bump carried Bowyer to the lead as he entered turn three. It appeared RCR would finish Daytona first and second, but, as the field exited turn four, a three-car accident broke out. The yellow flag was displayed prior to Bowyer reaching the start/finish line and set up a green, white and checkered flag finish.
The Cheerios/Hamburger Helper driver chose the top line for the restart with Gordon behind him. As the cars came up to speed, Gordon had a run and passed Bowyer on the outside. The No. 33 was shuffled out of the lead and faded to fifth as the white flag waved. The action picked up on the backstretch and Bowyer engaged in a spirited battle to get himself back to the front. He tried to get back in line, but was tapped from behind, sending him spinning into the grass. Bowyer was able to get his Chevrolet pointed in the right direction and crossed the finish line 17th.
Harvick scored the victory and was chased to the line by Kasey Kahne, Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Burton.
Next weekend, NASCARs senior circuit heads to Chicagoland Speedway.